Social Media Influence, Science or Sham – Part 2
This is the second article in a five-part series, and if you missed Part 1 I suggest reading it first so you understand my mission. It is not to assail, grade or score on a definitive or relative basis any of the three primary influence score providers mentioned rather to look more deeply at what they do and how it may affect your life, knowingly or unknowingly.
In this article I’ll be looking at Kred in particular, examining how they produce their scores and reviewing some of the issues I discussed with their CEO, Andrew Grill, in a telephone interview.
Kred is a relative youngster in the SMI scoring market having started operations late last year but they are an outgrowth of a social media analytics company called PeopleBrowsr that has been around since 2007. While Kred has been issuing SMI scores for just over six months they have a wealth of data stretching back to 2008, most of which is the complete Twitter Firehose (geek speak for a streaming API that facilitates real-time access to data), on which to base their scoring.
The Kred score, or more accurately in their case – scores – as they actually produce two different but related scores called Influence and Outreach, are calculated using a very open and transparent algorithm that assigns values to a user’s Twitter or Facebook activities. Mr. Grill stated that they are currently developing an interaction with LinkedIn and are evaluating the data available from Google Plus.
The Influence score is based on a 1,000 point maximum and reflects the effects of Twitter mentions, retweets, replies and follows from your public timeline; and Facebook likes, shares, comments, etc. from your friends but only if you have opted in as a Kred user. In other words it is a numeric statement of how you inspire others to interact with you and what you tweet or share.
The Outreach score is expressed in levels with a current maximum of 12 and represents your interaction with other’s content such as your mentions, replies, retweets, etc. in your public timeline of another user’s tweet; or your comments, likes and shares of another user’s Facebook statuses or shares but here again only if you have opted in as a Kred user.
One of the interesting facets of Kred is the use of ‘communities’ or interest categories such as politics, marketing, sports, blogging, news, etc. Each user has Global Kred scores without regard to specific communities and subsequent scores for each individual community.
I admit I was a bit confused at first by my having strong scores in communities such as lawyers and wine but Mr. Grill explained this is a reflection of not just me but the relative influence of the people with whom I interact the most. True enough, a couple of my most active Twitter and Facebook relationships are with people who are lawyers and have been known to imbibe on occasion so it made perfect sense.
Two other intriguing features of Kred are real-time activity screens that actually allow you to see your online activity as it is occurring and the opportunity to submit offline accomplishments to augment your Kred profile and scores. With the ever-increasing intertwinement of our real and online lives I like the ‘Offline Kred’ feature’s attempt to enable the marriage of both in my social influence scores. Mr. Grill discussed some enhancements to the submission process are in the works, as the current one is just a little confusing, but nonetheless it is a unique and relevant feature in my opinion.
As cited in Part 1 of this series there were three issues that I was interested in learning more about as I delved deeper into each application. They are the privacy of my information, the company’s revenue model and their thoughts about the use of SMI scores in areas outside the marketing arena, in particular with regard to their use in determining the qualifications of a job applicant for a given position.
He did note with favor that Kred offers a very easy method to control your own privacy settings that dictate what another online user may see from your Kred profile.
With regard to the other two issues I emailed Mr. Grill two questions prior to our interview and will, for the time being, include them and his responses below without comment. I will hold my opinions and thoughts until Part 5 of this series where I’ll draw all my conclusions and express my thoughts about these topics.
Please describe your company’s revenue model. In short, what do you do with your data to bring dollars in the front door or, lacking any current revenues what will you be doing to create them?
At core we’re a data company. We have stored, filtered and indexed the full Twitter firehose since 2008, public Facebook posts, over 40 million blogs and forums, and other public data sources. We then supply this data to our clients in various ways depending on their requirements: through an API, a social analytics platform, or full-service social media reports and capabilities. This is where our business starts.
Kred Influence Measurement is one of the ways we add value to the data, and it has opened new vistas both to us and our customers. Kred uses relational algorithms to find who the most influential and outreaching people are, which communities they belong to, and where their voices are most trusted and influential.
This makes our data interesting to clients in many ways, and we are constantly surprised at their inventiveness. The simplest use is determining who most influences their brand or market so they can engage with them. We have also had great interest in integrating Kred into existing applications, like CRM databases, customer service and call center software, commenting systems, site gamification, local /mobile reviews, and many others. We will also shortly be launching a service for targeting people with offers that have high relevance to them based on their social media profile.
Please cite your company policy and personal attitude about the use of your company’s influence score outside the marketing arena and being used in circumstances such as benchmarking job applicants or determining the value of one applicant over another based on their social media influence score.
Influence measures are in their early days, and we would never recommend that staff be selected based on any single metric.
Transparency is one of our key values as a company, and our commitment to openness is reflected in how we let anyone see the source of a person’s social media influence in real-time activity statements and by exposing our algorithm at http://kred.com/rules.
If an HR professional wants to use Kred to help them make a hiring decision, they can use the information at Kred.com to drill down into a particular social media profile and see exactly what composes their influence score; do they have high influence because of something that’s actually relevant to the position.
Conversely, if someone doesn’t want anyone reviewing their social media profile, we have made it very simple to change their privacy settings so their social media interactions are anonymized on our site.
Ultimately we feel that openness will create more opportunities than problems. Visitors to our site can instantly see whatever they have in common with others through our Kredentials feature, including the words, communities and connections they share. By concentrating on what we have in common and shared interests, we can help people find relationships, business partners and perhaps even colleagues.
As one of the leaders in the social media influence space, we feel we have a responsibility to educate end users, brands and agencies around best practices for using influencer scores such as Kred when assessing individuals and companies based on their social media profile.
We spend a great deal of time ensuring users are aware of our transparent scoring methodology, and also work directly with clients to ensure they are looking at an inclusive set of social data from multiple sources rather than just a single influence number.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: I would like to thank Mr. Grill for his time and willingness to be interviewed and for his responses to my written questions. For more information about Kred I suggest their blog and London Calling where Mr. Grill is a frequent contributor.
This is the second article in this five-part series and you can follow me on Twitter (@Tom1247), send me a friend request on Facebook (Tom Dougherty), subscribe to The Right Sphere or my personal blog to get first notice of the next article being posted.